Behind the Numbers on Opposition to an Assault Weapons Ban (POLL)

Clearly there's a deep gun culture in the United States.

These are especially notable results for two reasons: One is that, as mentioned, attitudes on gun control don’t usually move in response to gun crimes; and, secondly, the direction of the movement.

Even with terrorism as a concern, attitudes on gun control also are linked to political assessments. As we reported in our analysis yesterday, the strongest current factor in attitudes on an assault weapons ban is presidential approval. Directionality isn’t clear, but controlling for other potential factors, the more people approve of the president, the more apt they are to support an assault weapons ban – with the opposite holding true as well. And the president’s rating, as we've reported, is 6 percentage points under water.

Other factors matter as well. Our statistical analysis finds that concerns about the government’s ability to prevent terrorism is another significant independent factor in views on banning assault weapons. So are political ideology, gender and age – with, perhaps surprisingly, young people more apt to oppose a ban on these weapons.

Lastly, we noted in our analysis that the shift in views on banning assault weapons is broadly based. The table below underscores that result, showing opposition is up by 8 to 13 points across political lines, 6 to 18 points among ideological groups (particularly among strong conservatives, but also moderates), 8 to 16 points across regions (especially in the generally more liberal Northeast) and 9 to 14 points regardless of whether people live in urban, suburban or rural areas.

(Thanks to Prof. Robert Y. Shapiro of Columbia University for the questions that prompted this post.)